Public support for Stephen Harper's Conservatives is still eroding amid Canadians' opposition to the Prime Minister's decision to temporarily suspend Parliament, an Angus Reid-Toronto Star poll indicates.
The Conservatives stand at 33 per cent support among decided voters, down slightly from mid-January, while the Liberals are at 29 per cent. The NDP enjoys 19 per cent support, while the Bloc Québécois is at 10 per cent, and the Green party 7 per cent.
To emphasize the fact that the House of Commons chamber is off limits to MPs, Ignatieff has brought his caucus to Parliament Hill for hearings and discussions on the economy, the need for independent government watchdogs and other issues.
He criticized Harper for talking about post-recession policies while Canadians are still facing long jobless lines, with 320,000 jobs having disappeared since late 2008.
"We're not out of the woods yet. We're still in big trouble," Ignatieff told a news conference outside the door to the Commons. "We're in a jobless recovery, but the Conservatives have no plan for creating long-term, high-quality jobs."
For the March 4 federal budget, the Liberals propose:
Temporary financial incentives for firms that hire young Canadians, such as new graduates from universities, colleges or apprenticeships. This measure is meant to address a crisis in youth unemployment, which at 16 per cent is nearly double the national average.
A new tax incentive to help manufacturers who are losing money during the recession afford new technology and equipment. Under the existing capital cost allowance program, companies that invest in new equipment can claim a tax benefit in subsequent years against their profits. The Liberal plan would provide a cash advance – rather than later tax credits – to help companies buy machinery right away.
Tax breaks to increase "venture capital" investments in start-up companies in emerging technologies such as clean energy, telecommunications and life sciences.
The Liberals said the measures, depending on how they are implemented, would cost Ottawa between $125 million and $270 million annually.
The Angus Reid-Toronto Star poll was conducted on Monday and Tuesday, just after thousands of Canadians joined rallies across the country against Harper's decision to suspend Parliament until March 3. Sixty-one per cent of respondents disagree with Harper's move, the pollsters said.
The Tories are still on top in the West but have ceded their lead among voters in Ontario, where the Liberals at 35 per cent and the Tories at 36 per cent are virtually tied. The NDP is at 19 per cent. In Quebec, the Bloc is on top with 42 per cent, followed by the Liberals at 28 per cent, the NDP at 14 per cent and the Conservatives at 11 per cent.
The online survey was conducted among 1,005 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panellists. The margin of error is 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Another poll released yesterday had similar findings.
The latest Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey suggests the Conservatives and Liberals are in a statistical dead heat, with 32 per cent supporting the Tories and 31 per cent for the Liberals.